We are so excited to welcome Patty Roche as our Manager/Chef at Pickering House Inn! Patty comes to us after more than 25 years in the hospitality field. Most recently, she was a Culinary Specialist at Stonewall Kitchen, where she helped start the company’s well-known cooking school and taught more than 1500 cooking classes.
Q: You relocated from York, ME and left a high profile position at the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School to lead the staff at Pickering House Inn when it opens. What made you decide to take the leap?
A: The short answer is that I was ready for a new challenge, but that’s only part of the story. I first met Patty Cooke [one of the owners of Pickering House Inn] at one of my cooking classes. We talked about a kitchen design for the new inn that she and her husband were going to open. My husband and I drove to Wolfeboro to see the property and ended up visiting with Patty and Peter for several hours. I loved the story of Pickering House’s second chance but I also loved the Cookes. I knew I wanted to part of this. I’ve had a long-time interest in preserving historic structures, and Pickering House spoke to me. Back in 1993, when I lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut, I took a lead role in raising funds to renovate a lighthouse that was built in 1823. It took five years, but we made it happen!
Q: You’ll be managing the Inn but your culinary skills will also be put to work, right?
A: Absolutely! I’ll be preparing fabulous breakfasts and light bites in the evening for guests but I’ll also have plenty of opportunities to put my catering experience to work for larger groups as well. We are going to be offering special dining experiences to guests and the public through pop-up events. Sometimes I will be the chef for these events, and sometimes we will invite guest chefs to come in. I’ll also do the cooking for many of the private functions that will be taking place at The Barn at Pickering House or for Inn guests.
Q: How did you become such a wonderful chef?
A: A love of food and appreciation for quality meats and produce is part of my heritage. My father, John McNamara was a third generation butcher and owner of John P. McNamara and Son Wholesale Meat and Provisions in Bridgeport, Connecticut. When I was a kid, I would get up at 3 a.m. on Saturdays to go to the “Beef House” with my dad to work.
When I grew up, I stayed in the food business–everything from waitressing and bartending to working in the kitchen. For 15 years, I had a catering business. It started with a dinner for eight and quickly progressed to doing weddings for 300 people, lobster bakes, and fundraisers, including some for Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang. I actually initiated and ran the Old Black Rock Lobster Festival -- at the time, the largest Lobsterfest in Connecticut -- for eight years. It was really rewarding because proceeds benefited the Black Rock Community Center, a real oasis for needy children in Bridgeport.
We moved from Bridgeport, Connecticut to York, Maine in 2000. I began working as a temp at Stonewall Kitchen, as well as at a local restaurant in Cape Neddick, Maine. In 2003, I began working for Stonewall Kitchen full-time, moving from store associate, to visual merchandiser, to Manager of Visual Merchandising. In 2007, one of the co-founders of Stonewall Kitchen asked me to open a cooking school, despite the fact I had never operated a cooking school! I completed intensive training at Atlantic Culinary Academy in Dover, New Hampshire and opened the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School in 2008. Over the years, I have taught more than 1500 cooking classes, done demonstrations for the media, assisted with recipe development, styled food for photoshoots and a whole lot more.
Q: How are you preparing for your new role at Pickering House Inn and The Barn at Pickering House?
A: I’ve had lots of time to prepare! I met with Patty and Peter shortly after they purchased the property and I decided early on that I wanted to be part of the project. For the past year, we’ve been collaborating to craft a really special guest experience. I’ve been getting to know Wolfeboro and all the great local sources and I now have a home in Wolfeboro! I have experience in many aspects of Inn operations but will also be attending what Patty and I call “inn school” in Asheville NC. I’ve worked at inns before, but I’m looking forward to this additional training.
Q: Last question, and this one is a little self-serving! You’ve tried so many recipes. Do you have any that are particular favorites?
A: Here are four that I love:
White Chocolate Key Lime Bars with Ginger Mint Syrup
Asparagus and Carrot Bundles with Prosciutto and Grilled Lemons
Mascarpone Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
Pork Wellington with Fennel and Maine Maple Champagne Mustard
Thank you – and welcome to the team at Pickering House Inn!